It is midnight, and full moon on the Himalayas, and the cold kills. I cannot adapt to the climate. The wooden walls of my room are a miserable shelter and my feather sleeping bag is too warm and transpiring. I am sweating in it and the slightest air current makes me shiver. It is my mania to avoid anything synthetic. I decide to go down to the hot springs. A small one is nearby, in the center of the village, tiled with large flat stones and bounded by a circular wall of smaller ones, about an arm’s length. The diameter is approximately five meters and there’s never anyone; they all go to the biggest one at the village entrance. That hot water spring welcomes you when you arrive, after crossing an endless rope-bridge teetering over a sacred river descending loud and rushing into a deep gorge. When you walk over it, stunned by the noise, you see the road carved into the mountain on one side and inviting warm waters on the other. They’re very hot indeed, contained within a single masonry construction. All the rest is wood.
The air is very cold, the moon triumphs, and the pitch darkness is the backdrop with thousands of pulsating stars. I take a deep breath and feel like dying. I go, alone in the street, shaking in my yak-wool jacket and pulling my local hat down to my ears. I can see the fumes of the baths from afar, inviting, and I already breathe the delicate scent of sulfur. All around, above the dark shape of the houses, the giant profiles of the mountains. I leave my slippers out and enter the circle. Heat and humidity are very pleasant and revive me. It’s a dark outdoor place, surely revitalizing for my skin and numbed lungs. I take off my jacket to sit on hot plates, and enjoy the night, moon, loneliness, altitude, and finally heat. What a place, what an atmosphere, what an unknown and unimaginable magic. I would stay naked but you never know how many eyes are watching you hidden in the dark of night. There is too much moonlight to sleep. All around is peace, but inside me there is always something that grinds deep and makes me always feel uncomfortable. Time stops and so do I, in unstable balance, crushed by the night that does not move. I close my eyes and listen to the sound of water flowing beneath me.
I hear the sound of footsteps and see Rita arriving. She takes off her slippers and approaches, sitting down beside me. She feels cold too and presses against me for a few minutes. We look into each other’s eyes; silence is too dominant to say anything, we’re both pure perception pierced by reflected moon rays. We fill a pipe and smoke it slowly, savoring the taste, the burning fire and thick smoke coming out of our dragon’s mouth. It’s becoming more and more magic this October full moon. It’s getting hotter and bit by bit we strip off our cloths, until we’re finally naked, reckless and heedless as always. Her skin is white, faintly silver, her curves slender and delicate, her eyes bright and smiling and a cascade of black curls cover her shoulders down to her breasts. Her pubic forest dominates, undisputed and inviting, and we get lost in a sublime tangle of love. A bit timid, a bit hesitant, I come inside her. She’s happy. We lie embraced over our clothes. The night is softer now, gently enveloping, and after an infinite time, comes an endless dawn. The ritual is complete, in the Valley of Gods.